Andrew Lloyd Webber

The Andrew Lloyd Webber Divas

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As Paul Gambaccini points out in his liner notes to this collection, Andrew Lloyd Webber has been good to the female characters in his musicals, often giving them melodic, affecting ballads to sing. In turn, several female performers have emerged as musical stars singing those songs, among them Elaine Paige, Patti LuPone, and Sarah Brightman. They, along with many others, are heard here, sometimes in recordings drawn from the cast albums to Lloyd Webber's shows. For example, Yvonne Elliman, the first Mary Magdalene in the 1970 studio cast recording of Jesus Christ Superstar, performs "I Don't Know How to Love Him," and Barbara Dickson, who scored a British hit with "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" from the 1976 Evita studio cast album, sings it again here. Things get a little more complicated thereafter. The compilers have opted for Broadway's Betty Buckley for "Memory" from Cats, shunting aside Paige, who introduced it in the West End. Paige, who was also the West End's first Evita (although Julie Covington, not included on this disc, originated the role on the 1976 studio cast album), is only included here performing "Rainbow High" from that show. This oddity and others on the album may be explained by the apparent need -- since there was an opportunity -- to have Madonna sing "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from the movie version of Evita. That meant both Paige and LuPone (Broadway's Evita) had to be given other songs. LuPone might have done a song from Sunset Boulevard, a show she opened in London. But her controversial replacement for the Broadway version by Glenn Close perhaps scotched that. Close sings Sunset Boulevard's "With One Look," despite its being somewhat beyond her range, while the vocally superior LuPone is given another lesser Evita song, "Buenos Aires." Besides Madonna, the other big star heard here is Barbra Streisand, who is rarely included in various artists compilations, singing "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Sunset Boulevard and making a tour de force of it. (Some divas are worth accommodating.) Often, however, it is the lesser known songs or performers who impress the most. Brightman, who starred in The Phantom of the Opera, doesn't get to sing anything from it, but she does sing "Surrender," a song based on a theme from Sunset Boulevard though not actually done as a vocal number in it. The most welcome surprise, both as a composition and as a performance, is Minnie Driver's "Learn to Be Lonely," a song written for the movie version of The Phantom of the Opera. On the other hand, Kiri Te Kanawa's overdone rendition of "The Heart Is Slow to Learn," said to be intended for a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, does not encourage hopes about such a project.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:40 Amazon
2 5:48 Amazon
feat: Madonna
4 4:07 Amazon
5 3:06
feat: Glenn Close
7 2:20
feat: Dina Carroll
3:47 Amazon
9 3:40
feat: Patti LuPone
11 4:45
feat: Elaine Paige
feat: Marti Webb
14 4:53
15 3:01 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick